U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: "It takes two to tango. And if, if our Russian friends are prepared to implement their commitments under Minsk (Agreement) and our Ukrainian friends are as well, we will fully support that and that is the best way to avert a renewed crisis in Ukraine."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Stockholm on Thursday (December 2) and warning him face-to-face of "serious consequences" in the form of sanctions if Russia's military launches an invasion of its ally.
Lavrov, here, responding that NATO is drawing closer to Russia's borders, and that the "nightmare scenario of a military confrontation is returning."
It's a diplomatic meeting on neutral ground. Hands are being shaken.
The two men refer to each other by their first names.
But, make no mistake, the Ukraine crisis is still the main flashpoint in the relationship between Russia and the West, at the worst level in the three decades since the end of the Cold War.
A senior U.S. official told Reuters there were no breakthroughs at the Blinken-Lavrov meeting, although both sides agreed to keep the dialogue going, and it's likely going to be intense.
Meanwhile the crisis in eastern Europe continues.
Reuters visited these separatists, backed by Russia, in Ukraine the day before the Stockholm meeting. Both sides accuse each other of ceasefire violations.
Vladimir, here, who did not give us his last name, says the gunfire usually starts in the late afternoon. He says he's spent eight years in these trenches, and hasn't seen his family in ages.
The Russian government said on Thursday that it's arrested three suspected Ukrainian operatives, including one planning a bombing using homemade devices, which Ukraine's government has dismissed as a trumped up charge.
Russian media are reporting that Moscow hopes a meeting between Presidents Biden and Putin can happen soon.